There are a number of breathtaking beaches that can be easily reached by rail in the UK - but for those looking to experience even more adventure on their next seaside getaway, why not visit the coast by steam train on a journey along one of these five iconic heritage lines? Rumble past mountains of golden dunes, stretches of silken sand and sparkling sea waves in style and get ready for the ultimate day out by the beach.
Dartmouth Steam Railway
Discover one of the most picturesque train trips along the coast of Tor Bay when you travel from the seaside town of Paignton to Kingswear. From here, you can further your journey to Dartmouth by taking a short foot passenger ferry across the river Dart. Your steam train ride will pull all the picture-perfect punches as you pass sandy bays and vibrant resorts. Make sure you have your bucket and spade ready for the idyllic beaches and coves at Goodrington Sands and Churston.
Plan your adventure: www.dartmouthrailriver.co.uk
West Somerset Railway
The 10 charming railway stations on this historic line, which begins at Bishops Lydeard and ends at Minehead, have all been painstakingly preserved over the years, surely rating this steam train trip as one of the best heritage railway journeys in England. Roll through the Somerset countryside in the shadow of the Quantock Hills and along the coast towards the sandy shores of your final stop. Alight at Minehead and pick up some crab nets from one of the fishing tackle shops in town before exploring the rock pools at the beach.
Plan your adventure: www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk
Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway
There’s fun for all the family on this spectacular steam train line, which is one of Kent’s most-loved tourist attractions. What makes this railway even more unique is that it still operates a postal and parcels service and issues its own stamps. Hop on at Hythe and make your way to Dymchurch, St Mary’s Bay, Romney Sands or Dungeness for a beach adventure. Kids will also enjoy stopping at New Romney, which boasts a model exhibition, children’s playground, souvenir shop and more.
Plan your adventure: www.rhdr.org.uk
North Norfolk Railway
Start your day trip at the Victorian seaside resort of Sheringham. Climb aboard one of the masterfully restored steam and diesel locomotives before rolling along the tracks towards Weybourne, where you’ll find a glorious pebble beach that’s surrounded by sandy cliffs and far-reaching views. This railway journey ends in Holt, which may not have its own beach but does offer visitors a wonderful country park that’s worth exploring.
Plan your adventure: www.nnrailway.co.uk
This bucket list steam train experience, more recently made famous in the Harry Potter films, serves travellers from Fort William through to Mallaig, where visitors will find a series of celebrated beaches. Overlooked by Ben Nevis, trains cross an iconic 21-arch curving viaduct, which, on a clear day, offers some of the most impressive views over the Glenfinnan Monument and along the length of Loch Shiel. Once at Mallaig, adventurers can take a short onward journey by taxi to the Silver Sands of Morar – the sea and sand here is out-of-this-world and could easily be mistaken for a Caribbean beach.
Plan your adventure: www.westcoastrailways.co.uk
You can learn more about the best seaside destinations to visit by steam train in Julian Holland’s series of railway books including Railway Day Trips and Britain’s Heritage Railways. Julian’s books are available to buy online and at all good bookshops.